Cubs set rotation for week ahead; Jon Lester starts opener in Cleveland
David Ross and the Cubs are trying to keep routines as normal as possible, even when situations around them would make it easy to stray away from them.
So, Ross and his staff scheduled a 5-inning intrasquad game Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, with Alec Mills – who would’ve started Saturday – taking the bump for one team. Mills pitched all 5 innings, allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits with 3 strikeouts on 58 pitches.
After the scrimmage, Ross announced his rotation for the remainder of the week as follows:
Tuesday at Cleveland – Jon Lester
Wednesday at Cleveland – Kyle Hendricks
Thursday vs. Milwaukee – Yu Darvish
Friday vs. Milwaukee – Tyler Chatwood
Saturday vs. Milwaukee – Alec Mills
“I think the factors mainly came into just how many days off,” Ross said. “Being able to get Millsy, just where he fell in from his last start, to get him that sim game today, kinda just lined up for giving each guy the least amount of days off as we possibly could.”
With how hectic the last 48 to 72 hours have been, Ross wanted to keep the players’ spirits up and not too worried. After the scrimmage, he felt
“Guys have been good,” Ross said. “The fun part is that we get to come to work together where we all feel super safe in this environment, so that’s like a nice positive for us. Guys [had] really good energy at our workout today.
“It’d be really easy to not focus on a day like today — it was hot out there. I think we’re all holding up fine.”
Ross also made sure his bullpen got in its work, too.
For the opposing team, it was a bullpen day; Colin Rea started, and Craig Kimbrel, Casey Sadler, Duane Underwood Jr. and Rex Brothers all pitched an inning.
Kimbrel threw 11 pitches, allowed a hit and struck out 2 in a shutout inning, giving Ross and the Cubs some confidence about his outing.
“Every chance he gets a chance to get off the bump and get in competition is gonna be beneficial for him,” Ross said. “I thought he got some real good swing and misses on fastballs today up in the zone. Looked a little more like the Craig that we’ve seen flashes of and that he’s been most of his career. So, yeah, I thought it was a step forward today in his outing.”
– Rea struck out 3, allowing a hit on 23 pitches in his inning. Underwood Jr. had a scoreless inning on 11 pitches and Brothers and Sadler each allowed a run. Brothers, who is part of the taxi squad, struck out 2, and allowed 2 hits while throwing 20 pitches.
– Offensively, Ian Happ showed off his hot form, going 3-for-3 with 2 doubles and an RBI. Nico Hoerner added a home run off Mills.
– The Cubs granted Derek Dietrich’s request for his release to pursue a major league opportunity. The move brings the Cubs 60-man player pool to 59.